Dan Casarella didn’t mean to start a podcast.
Then his sister, Sarah, asked him to officiate at her wedding. And as someone who didn’t have a particularly impressive record of his own in the relationship department, Casarella decided that if he wanted his words to be authentic, he needed insight from people who could speak to the transformative power of love.
That’s how the Out of Love podcast, which debuted in April—on Sarah’s birthday—was born.
Over the course of more than two dozen episodes, Casarella, a Temple alum and New Jersey native, has explored various aspects of love: dating apps; emotional cheating; breakups. He’s welcomed experts from psychology professors to his own high school crush.
Now a copywriter at Lightning Media Partners, Casarella wasn’t a stranger to media: While at Temple, he had his own radio show five nights a week, and he also worked at Jimmy Kimmel Live (and interned at the Late Show With David Letterman).
He’d moved back to the East Coast from Los Angeles just a few months before the pandemic hit. While hunkered down at his parents’ place in Asbury Park during the stay-at-home orders, he got to wondering how relationships would be affected by Covid-19. Would they thrive? Would they disintegrate?
He invited Dr. Kareem Johnson, associate professor of psychology at Temple, onto his show to find out. “Dr. Johnson’s simple answer was ‘Good relationships will get better, bad relationships will get worse,’” Casarella explains.
Hearing that, Casarella’s thoughts turned to a more fraught aspect of relationships: What would happen to people experiencing relationship abuse, as they were confined to spaces with their abusers and had limited access to the resources they might have relied on pre-Covid?
“It was scary to me, to think that if someone was already in a bad situation, it could get worse. That was something that I wanted to direct my resources to, domestic abuse and domestic violence,” he says.
Katie Young Wildes is the senior communications specialist at Women Against Abuse (WAA), which operates the city’s only emergency safe havens for people (of any gender identity or sexual orientation) who are experiencing partner violence.
Their havens serve nearly 1,200 people a year, and include supports like case management, children’s services, and behavioral health therapy. WAA is also the lead operator of the Philadelphia Domestic Violence Hotline, 1-866-723-3014, a citywide resource that they run with three other partners.
In November, WAA will launch an online chat feature for people who are experiencing abuse and don’t have a safe space from which to talk via phone, a common challenge as people continue to spend more time at home.
“We’ve been very concerned throughout Covid about the impact on people who are forced to quarantine with an abusive partner,” Young Wildes says.
Recognizing the extraordinary work WAA does, Casarella, along with his buddy Ian Farmer of the popular Philly band Slaughter Beach Dog, decided to create a collection of songs by musicians, with all proceeds benefiting WAA. They asked musicians to write anything they wanted to, based on the theme of love.
They’d hoped to get five, maybe 10, songs on the album; instead, they wound up with 23 from Philly artists like Anika Pyle & Roger Harvey, Darla, Gladie, Hurry, Kat Siciliano, Liz Parsons (Big Nothing), Maxwell Stern, Najwa Parkins, and many more.
They dubbed the project “Compilation of Love” and released it on October 2 for $8. Within three days, they raised more than $2,000, and that number continues to grow as Casarella promotes the fundraiser and interviews musicians from the album on his podcast all month long. Casarella is also raising money—$544 and counting—for WAA through the sale of this unisex “Out of Love” T-shirt.
WAA is thrilled by the response. As a nonprofit organization, they, like so many organizations around Philly, have watched their budget take a hit during the pandemic.
“We have incurred a lot of expenses that we weren’t anticipating because of all the adaptations we’ve had to make,” Young Wildes explains. “So having private funding that can be used where we need it most is just so, so incredibly helpful. I can’t underscore that enough. The “Compilation of Love” fundraiser is a brilliant idea. We’re so grateful to be the beneficiary, and we really appreciate Dan and the whole group’s efforts behind this.”Header Photo: Matt Scottoline of Philadelphia band Hurry, which is featured on the "Compilation of Love" album for Women Against Abuse.